Team Philips abandoned

Goss and crew safe aboard German container ship after steering gear failure

Sunday December 10th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The drama began after a week of successful sea trials. After powering up the North Sea last weekend, Team Philips had sailed without major difficulty out into the North Atlantic. But with a weather pattern that persisted in throwing a succession of serious storms at them, the team were still a long way from home and dry.

In wind of 40 to 45 knots, damage to the underside of the pod started the trouble. The steering gear runs through this section, out to the beams and into the hulls to the rudders. Although details are sketchy at this stage, it seems likely that this damage was sustained as the pod buried itself in a wave - the wave piercing bows doing just that, until the pod hit the water.

With only limited control, limited speed, and Team Philips positioned about 700 miles directly west of the middle of Ireland, Goss found himself a sitting duck - staring down both barrels of an enormous depression set to hit the UK through Sunday night and Monday (what we're now experiencing is just the warm-up routine). And so Pete Goss took the decision to abandon the boat to which he has committed so much over the past three years, and leave Team Philips to tackle the worst the North Atlantic can throw at her on her own.

The British coastguard and helicopter crews helped to organise the rescue, and the Team Philips shore team speak very highly of the professionalism of the crew of the German container ship in effecting the rescue. At 08.25am on Sunday, 10th December, the Team Philips crew were reported as all safely aboard the ship. The captain had diverted from their passage to Nova Scotia, and will now resume that journey, Goss and his crew will fly back to Britain from there. They are, reported the shore support, happy to be safe.

The crew secured the boat as best they could, and set sea anchors to try and slow her down, but Team Philips will now drift at the mercy of the storm. She will probably be driven north-east in the south-westerly winds. Where she will end up and how easy it will be to salvage her, no one can say at this stage, though the team's meteorologist, Lee Bruce, is working on it.

Patricia Juarez of Team Philips admitted that this was the end of their challenge for The Race, but that it was far too early to comment on what might happen next. Fate has now taken control of the future, and we must all wait to see where Team Philips ends up, and whether she can be salvaged in any kind of seaworthy state. The shore team can track her progress across the North Atlantic using the GPS position reporting system aboard. So they are in a good position to make whatever salvage plans are possible - but for now we can only wait, and see what the storm does to the remains of Goss' dream.

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